Partnering to Save Lives

Last week I had the opportunity to lead a team of medical professionals to Malawi to plan for future medical trips—trips that will include nursing students from partnering universities or surgical teams from US hospitals.  I was joined by Dr. Constance Hendricks, a nursing professor at Auburn University School of Nursing (AUSON), Dr. Judi Jehle, a specialist in women’s health, and Ms. Mary Singletary, an RN and President of the National Council of Women of the United States.

While in country, our team was able to build relationships with some men and women who, just like the 100X Team, have high hopes for the future of healthcare in Malawi.  We were able to discuss some of the many challenges facing this developing nation.  Two of the challenges that were mentioned consistently were the shortage of trained nurses and midwives and the need for safer and more accessible healthcare facilities.

It was with great excitement that the 100X team was able to offer some options and opportunities to assist with these needs.  With the recent partnership between 100X Development, Auburn University and the Kamuzu College of Nursing, we were able to lay plans for a trip of AUSON professors and students to travel to Malawi in October 2012.  This trip will allow for hands-on experience, professional seminars, and simulation labs that will guarantee both the Auburn and Kamuzu students a better learning experience and in turn allow for a more rounded nursing graduate.  Students will train in the local hospitals, clinics, schools, and participate in health screenings in the local villages.

It is our hope that this collaboration will encourage nursing students and professors alike to step across cultural boundaries and realize that at the heart of nursing lies the commonality of caring for the patient in the most efficient and holistic way.

Our team was also excited about the possibility of Blessings Hospital serving as a future clinical site.  One of the evaluators for Blessings said, “This hospital is so spacious and has the potential to serve many women and children in the country.  We are excited about the future of this hospital.”

Blessings is currently running an outpatient clinic, a free “Under 5” clinic, a weekly pediatric physical therapy session, and is preparing to launch a free ART (a clinic specific for HIV patients) clinic.  With a maternal death rate of 1 in 36, and the 10th highest infant mortality rate in the world, it is essential that the hospitals and clinics in Malawi be staffed with fully trained medical personnel and midwives.  Blessings is equipped, staffed, and ready to take on the challenge of delivering better healthcare to all people in Malawi and 100X is behind them in this effort!

We believe that these opportunities will provide medical care to an overwhelming amount of Malawian people no matter what age or need.  Together, 100X, AUSON, and KCN are excited about the future of healthcare for the Malawian nation!  It is our goal to fully educate, motivate and facilitate the healthcare needs of Malawi.  Please join us in this effort to save lives!

Katie Sanderson, Program Director for Nursing Education

Continuing Together

On February 19, 2005, my family and I stood beside Chief Napoleon Dzombe and the Minister of Gender, Child Welfare and Community Services for the opening ceremony at Mtendere Village in Malawi. After the ceremony, I had the privilege of speaking with the Minister about our vision for Mtendere Village and our hope that every child living there would now be able to look to the future with great hope and expectation. I wanted them to know that their status as an orphan would never limit their vision for the future.

On that day, I was grateful to the Minister for her support of Mtendere Village and the example that she set for the young girls in our care. Over the years, I have watched as her influence in the country has increased—first as Foreign Minister, then Vice President—and have been encouraged by her unwavering support of women and children. Now, as the first female President of Malawi, it is my sincere hope that the girls at Mtendere will look to President Joyce Banda as an inspiration and an example of what is possible.

We are grateful for President Banda’s continued support of the work that we are doing, and we look forward to partnering with her to increase opportunities for the women and children of Malawi.

Lindy Blanchard, Co-Founder and President

One Day Without Shoes 2012

Regardless of your cause or your passion, we hope that ODWS inspires you to think about the world in a different way, and to believe that even one off-beat idea can bring people together to create something positive.

– Blake Mycoskie, Founder of TOMS Shoes

Imagine for a moment what it would be like to walk barefoot everyday.  How would it impact your daily life?  Today is TOMS’ One Day Without Shoes and they’re asking everyone to step out of their shoes in solidarity of the children who are growing up barefoot, and our team at 100X has decided to join them.

Hundreds of millions of children are at risk of injury and soil-transmitted diseases such as jiggers and ringworm because they do not have proper protection for their feet.  A large portion of those children are also not allowed to attend school simply because shoes are part of the required uniform.

Have you ever counted the number of shoes in your closet?  It isn’t something that I normally keep track of, but I thought it would be helpful to have some perspective as I prepared for today.  After scanning my closet—and grabbing the pair of pumps I kicked off in the living room—I had a number.  31.  I could officially go an entire month without wearing the same pair of shoes.

All things considered, I think I’ll take the $39 I budgeted for a new pair of flats and put it towards something a little more valuable.  What’s your number?

Want to get involved? Our programs provides shoes, and so much more!

Kimberly Casey, Special Assistant and Program Manager

The Heart of Mtendere Village

If you ever have the chance to visit Mtendere Village – you will quickly realize that our program for orphans and vulnerable children would not be possible without the dedication and care of our “housemothers.”  They are the glue that holds everything together – they are the heart of Mtendere Village.

Given the high number of orphans and the prevalence of domestic violence against women in Malawi, it is not surprising that many of our housemothers have a history that includes these elements.  The stories of neglect and abuse are devastating, but I cannot help but smile at the redemptive power of their stories.  Once broken themselves, these women understand the pain evident in the eyes of every abused child that is brought into the Mtendere family—an understanding that is critical to breaking through the protective facades and helping our children find healing. To provide insight, I’d like to introduce one of our housemothers.

Naomi was orphaned as a child, and in order to survive, she traveled from village to village to complete odd jobs in exchange for food.  When that wasn’t enough, which it rarely was, she begged others for help.  She lived on the street, had no protection from those who would take advantage, and was never quite sure where her next meal would come from.  School was never an option, and Naomi never learned to read or write.

She did eventually marry, and she and her husband had five children.  Sadly, her husband died and Naomi could no longer afford to send her children to school.  The cycle of illiteracy and poverty, it seemed, would continue indefinitely.

When Naomi heard about Mtendere Village, she came to us and asked for a job.  We quickly realized that she would be a wonderful addition to Mtendere Village, and we offered her a position as a housemother.

Because of her new job, Naomi was able to afford the school fees to send her youngest child to high school.  Now that she is a grandmother, she sends money to her children to help make certain that her grandchildren are able to attend school.  Naomi’s love and compassion for others is evident in everything that she does, and she is always the first to help others fulfill their dreams.  Witnessing this, our team at 100X could not help but want to do something to help her achieve a lifelong dream.

Each time Naomi received her paycheck, she stamped her thumbprint to acknowledge the payment.  This was not the result of some sophisticated identification technique, but was done because Naomi had never learned how to write her own name.  With the help of Phyllis Collins, a volunteer teacher from the US, we began tutoring Naomi in reading and writing.  After three months, I witnessed Naomi sign her name in my payroll book for the first time in her life!  The joy for both of us was immense!

It is beautiful to see Naomi, an orphan who spent her childhood living and begging on the streets, loving and caring for other orphaned children, and it has been a privilege to walk alongside her and see her realize a dream she had abandoned any hope of achieving.

Dana Blanchard, Director of Operations for Malawi               Support Mtendere Village

Getting Creative for Education

We can all remember moments in life when we experience something that takes our breath away and leaves us speechless….for me, most of these moments happen when I am in Malawi.

Receiving new children at Mtendere Village is always bittersweet.  When they arrive, I see eyes filled with vacancy, distrust, hurt, anger, anxiety and sadness.  Their only belongings are the tattered clothes on their backs and caked mud on their feet.  Then the transition begins.  They go from having almost nothing to eating three meals a day, having a house and bed, numerous clothing options, and the opportunity to attend school.

One of the first things we do when a school-aged child arrives at Mtendere is determine their education status.  The reality is that many of the children, even those aged 10-12, do not know the alphabet, and we often need to find creative ways to help them “catch up.”  Our staff at 100X and Mtendere Village is committed to working with each child to grow in knowledge just like we hope they will grow physically.

As you can probably imagine, just like any country, there is room for improvement in the educational system in Malawi.  In a school where there are 1,973 students registered, and over 75 students per teacher, the need to produce more teachers with higher education is an immense one.  Most classes meet outside, under a tree, with the chalkboard leaning up against it as their “classroom” setting.  The sight of these classes spread all around campus can be overwhelming.  All of our children attend local school and participate in after-school tutoring at Mtendere to help them reach their education goals.

One of the fun ways we encourage our children’s progression in academics and excitement about education is through the many “teams” that visit Mtendere Village each summer.  100X is proud to partner with Ball State University and Auburn University’s education programs to help ensure that our children have extra opportunities for learning.  These teams partake in classroom teaching, teacher workshops, and one-on-one tutoring, as well as some evaluation and research of the local school systems in Malawi.  Their passion and excitement is a great way to engage our children, and their love of learning is often contagious.

At 100X, we’re excited about creating a better environment for a more productive education for the Mtendere children, as well as for all kids and teachers of Malawi, and we are constantly working to leverage our resources to benefit the children under our care.  We all know the importance of school—that education lays a foundation that an individual can build on for the rest of his or her life—and every day we see our children progressing to a more hopeful future.

If you have questions about our education program in Malawi, you can email us at, or if you’d like to donate to our education fund, please click here.

Thanks so much for your support and interest in helping improve the education of young people in Malawi!

Dana Blanchard, Director of Operations for Malawi

The Cost of Inaction

Today in Malawi, I held a 5-month-old baby in my arms who was no heavier than 7 pounds due to severe malnourishment and a health care system that has overlooked this tiny human.  Many thoughts ran through my mind.  How could this baby boy, (who also had a twin sister as tiny and malnourished as him) make it this long without the necessary nutrients? Why was this health issue not addressed earlier? And the answer is clear:  the nutrition is not available and the health care is not accessible.

In a country where many only eat once a day, the lack of nutrition is a foundation for many other struggles.  How can a child in school truly focus on academics when he is worried about when his next meal will be?  How can a weak mother walk five or more miles to seek healthcare?  How can a sick mother provide for her three children?  The cycle that begins with lack of nutrition is a vicious one.

Inaccessible healthcare is also a major issue.  In some villages, like Chadza, a village with more than 250 people, the nearest clinic is 27 kilometers (18 miles) away.  And these people, who do not have access to nutritious food, certainly lack the transportation to make a trip to the doctor an “easy” one.  This inaccessibility is a major factor in the alarming maternal death rate (1 in 36) here in Malawi.

Action MUST be taken, and that is exactly what 100X Development is doing!  While the statistics are alarming, I am very encouraged at the potential we have to help the country of Malawi succeed.  There are many basic interventions that will help this developing nation and I am CERTAIN that with the right ideas and the accurate resources, 100X can truly improve the lives of all Malawian people.  By providing the appropriate nutrients to small children and babies, and the suitable nutritional supplements to expecting mothers, we are in turn ensuring a healthier lifestyle for both mom and baby.

With the proper resources, we will make healthcare much easier to access for all Malawian people. When people’s stomachs are full and their body is healthy, a nation of any size can prosper.  Our team at 100X is very excited about the possibilities in Malawi and we ask you to join us in the charge to make Malawi a better, healthier and happier nation!

Katie Sanderson, Program Director for Nursing Education

Merry Christmas!

On behalf of all of us at 100X, thank you for all that you have done to help us reach HIS children this year.

Many blessings to you and your family during this precious season of our Savior’s birth!

HIS and yours, The 100X Team

What does food mean to you?

Food.  noun, often attributive \ˈfüd\

1 (a): material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy; also : such food together with supplementary substances (as minerals, vitamins, and condiments)

1 (b):  inorganic substances absorbed by plants in gaseous form or in water solution

2:  nutriment in solid form.

3:  something that nourishes, sustains, or supplies….

We first met Andiseni (pictured with Ben Blanchard) in 2005.  He was brought to Mtendere Village severely malnourished and close to death.  Like many children in Malawi, he was a victim of the severe drought that destroyed vital crops throughout the country.

To Andiseni, food represented survival.

There has been a lot of discussion about food shortages and famine in recent months—images of children in the Horn of Africa, where more than 30,000 of them have died in last three months, have flooded the airwaves.  When I see them, I think of Andiseni.

This is Andiseni today.  He is a healthy, active six year old boy who loves to sing and play with galimotos (toy cars made out of wire).  He also has a great imagination, and can often be found building and “driving” cars made out of straw and whatever other materials he can find around Mtendere Village.  We were able to reach Andiseni in time, but we know there were many more children that we were not able to help.

The development sector often operates under a strategy of reaction instead of preemption, which inevitably means that lives will be shattered before an appropriate intervention is in place.  At 100X, we want to intervene before a crisis peaks.

In Malawi, fish is a vital protein resource; however, the current per capita fish supply is far below WHO recommendations.  Translation?  There are not enough fish for everyone—a deficit that greatly contributes to protein deficiency and malnutrition.  Which, according to the World Food Program, leads to reduced physical and mental development during childhood, greater risk during pregnancy, difficulty resisting disease, and diminished capacity to learn and do physical work.

Since food is so important, and fish is one of two primary sources of protein in Malawi, we have teamed up with fish experts.  Yes, there really are fish experts—not just people who fish well.  Our team is made up of the who’s who of aquaculture.

Auburn University’s Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures:  The international experts in building fish farms—an entire department of incredibly smart people, who know what it takes to get the fishing industry in Malawi up and running.

Chief Napoleon Dzombe: Chief Napoleon is a fish farming entrepreneur (and a highly respected chief in Malawi) who will be helping us connect new fishing techniques with the hundreds of farmers that he knows.

Maldeco:  This nonprofit corporation has been a major player in seeking to save the native fish, the Chambo, and they manufacture fish food.  We will be working with them to improve and expand the fish food they make to help farmers grow more fish.

Our role?  We are going to build state of the art fish ponds that are connected to farms.  The fish will live in water that will also be used for irrigation—that means that the stuff we normally filter out of the fish tank (enough said) will enrich the water used to water crops.

Sound Interesting?  Have you ever caught a fish with teeth?  Or scuba dived in a lake with 400 species of tropical fish?  You might need to take a trip to Malawi to visit the 100X work there, or perhaps you would like to just meet with our fish team to see what you can do.  Visit our website to see how you can help us help children like Andiseni!

Lindy Blanchard, Co-Founder and President

A child’s first…

I am thankful to report that this past April – June, we were blessed to receive 17 more children at Mtendere Village.  Our staff got to experience many of the children’s “firsts”: first time to ever sleep on a mattress, first time to wear a pair of shoes, first time to see a camera, and, first time ever to meet an American.

It was our 2 year olds’ first time in life to be held. Andrew’s father disappeared before he was born and his mother died after giving birth. He was raised by his grandfather which meant staying home alone for days at a time with no food while his grandfather occupied the local beer halls. There was no stimulation or human interaction. When he was brought to us, he was not only malnourished but emotionally vacant. The love of the other children overwhelmed him. After 30 days of constant love and attention, we watched as for the first time ever, Andrew reached for a hug and for the first time since we received him, he smiled.

Jaziel is our 4 year old who lost both his mom and dad. His grandmother could not feed or clothe him. Much like all our children, Jaziel came to Mtendere with only the clothes on his back. It was his first full day and the sound of the lunch bell rang. Jaziel asked, “What does that mean?” and Michael (our 5 year old) told him, “that is the sound of lunch, lets go get our food!” Jaziel said, “You mean we get to eat again?”…. Not only was this the first time for Jaziel to wear new clothes, but it was his first time in life, to be fed twice in one day.

Fatsani (our 6 year old) after losing both his mother and father, lived with his grandmother. When his health began to suffer because she was not able to care for him, the Chief of his village brought the urgent matter to us. After a month of living at Mtendere, he looked and behaved like a new child. At this same time, his aunt came to my house and said she had just received the news that her only sisters son was taken to a place that she was told “sells children to America.”  She was in tears and demanded to see her nephew. She asked if she was too late. She wanted to know if we had sold her only connection to her late sister. As I began to explain to her that we do not “sell children to anyone” and talked with her more about our programs, she suddenly saw Fatsani running to her in the distance. She covered her eyes, rested her head on my shoulder and cried out, “Praise God for you all at this place! I’ve never known people like you who would take in orphans and treat them like kings.” For the first time in his life, Fatsani was according to her being treated like a king! Praises to the King of Kings for blessings like this!

Dana Blanchard, Director of Operations for Malawi